Nerve Implant Restores Consciousness To Man In Vegetative State

Nerve Implant Restores Consciousness To Man In Vegetative State.

Patients lying in a vegetative state present severe impairments of consciousness caused by lesions in the cortex, the brainstem, the thalamus and the white matter. There is agreement that this condition may involve disconnections in long-range cortico–cortical and thalamo-cortical pathways. Hence, in the vegetative state cortical activity is ‘deafferented’ from subcortical modulation and/or principally disrupted between fronto-parietal regions. Some patients in a vegetative state recover while others persistently remain in such a state. The neural signature of spontaneous recovery is linked to increased thalamo-cortical activity and improved fronto-parietal functional connectivity. The likelihood of consciousness recovery depends on the extent of brain damage and patients’ etiology, but after one year of unresponsive behaviour, chances become low. There is thus a need to explore novel ways of repairing lost consciousness. Here we report beneficial effects of vagus nerve stimulation on consciousness level of a single patient in a vegetative state, including improved behavioural responsiveness and enhanced brain connectivity patterns. Credit: From the paper Restoring Consciousness With Vagus Nerve Stumulation by Martina Corazzol et al., published in Current Biology 25 September 2017.

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